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Tune in, switch off - Shows are snow joke

During my end-of-term clear out, I skimmed through a year of "Tune in" columns to find my favourites.

My drama pick would be The Street (ITV 1). Jimmy McGovern's ground-breaking series about the social problems in a single postcode made me worry about the catchment school. If the adults had troubling coping with handicaps, disfigurement, alcoholism and poverty, what about the children? For, as we know, there are no problem pupils, only problem parents.

The solution for youngsters in postcodes such as this is not to change their school, but, sadly, to find new homes. There is even a science to prove it, though it's called sociology.

Occupation (BBC One) was another of my highlights, conveying the horrors of the Iraq invasion and its aftermath-wrecked lives and broken bodies. Damnation for the politicians responsible might be to spend eternity watching it. And weeping.

Rap ringing, a kind of verbal skateboarding, took off in our school last term, based on Smithy's affectionate messages to his bosom friend in Gavin and Stacey (BBC One, pictured), one of my comedy highlights. But if I had Smithy stalking me, I would change my phone. The programme came back for a final series with Wales playing Essex at home and that contradiction in fiction, the credible stereotype. The two leads in love may be as boring as a bridal boutique during the new year sales, but the other characters were foible-filled and fallible.

Another comedy masterpiece, The Thick of It (BBC Two) kept me howling at insults that always seemed to involve surgical amputation and the re-stitching of organs in unsuitable places. That's if they had not been turned into decorative objects. Tucker may have lost it advising a collapsing Government, but he might yet find a post turning around failing schools. Imagine the scene in the staffroom next week if he turned up. Actually, he would never pass a safeguarding test.

My comedy favourite of 2009 was The Big Bang Theory (Channel 4). Super-geek Sheldon made even the aliens from Dr Who seem normal. He is such a phenomenal physicist, he would scoop all the points on University Challenge. In one episode he provided the scientific explanation for my anxiety at Christmas, explaining that presents were just obligations to be re-paid. Well I'm doing mine tomorrow at the exchange counter in MS.

The best information programme last year was The Sex Education Show vs Pornography (Channel 4). I watched it every night for a week to write about it and so could even pretend I was working. Seriously, we need more bold campaigns like this to help us with health drives.

The Apprentice (BBC One) gets my vote for best TV reality show. Sir Alan looks soft compared with Tucker, especially now he is in Government. Still, my new year prediction is that the elevation of TV hosts won't catch on so Ant and Dec, Simon Cowell and the rest needn't hold their breath. Happy new season's viewing

Ray Tarleton is principal of South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton, Devon.

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